U.S. Senate 2016: Loretta Sanchez announces campaign for Boxer’s seat

220px-Loretta_Sanchez_official_photoFlanked by a group of supporters at the Santa Ana train station, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, officially launched her campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

Thursday’s announcement, one day before the California Democratic Party’s spring convention, sets up a Democratic women showdown between Sanchez and Attorney General Kamala Harris. Under California’s Top 2 Primary, both Democrats could make it past the June primary and into a November 2016 general election run-off.

“I’m running to give a voice to every Californian,” said Sanchez, a moderate Democrat from Orange County. “I’m running for Senate because I bring national security and military experience in these critical times.”

Sanchez’s record in Congress

Sanchez brings to the race an impressive campaign resume that began with an improbable upset of six-term GOP Rep. Bob Dornan in 1996, an election she won by fewer than 1,000 votes. During her 10 terms in Washington, D.C., Sanchez has served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee as well as been an influential member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

“There are two kinds of candidates,” Sanchez said at her campaign kick-off. “Those who want to be something and those who want to do something. I am running for Senate because I am a doer.”

If Sanchez prevails in her first statewide campaign, she’ll become the the first Latina ever elected to the U.S. Senate. Before she can make history, she’ll need to overcome demographic challenges with her key voting blocs: Southern Californians and Latinos. Both groups represent a large number of raw voters, who traditionally turn out in lower numbers than the statewide average. 

No coronation for Kamala Harris

In January, Boxer announced that she would retire after four terms in the U.S. Senate. Although Harris quickly entered the race, other big-name Democrats seemed uninterested in challenging the state’s top law enforcement officer.

For months, it looked like Harris might simply take over the seat without a challenge from any of the next generation of Democratic leaders. In quick succession, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Treasurer John Chiang, billionaire climate-change activist Tom Steyer and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa each announced that they would forgo the race.

Kamala HarrisEarlier this week, Sanchez appeared to be latest Democrat to pass on the race. Sanchez’s team released a draft email announcing her campaign kick-off, but then quickly retracted the announcement, saying that she was still undecided.

That indecision caused the Los Angeles Times to complain that Harris’ coronation was bad for the democratic process.

“An unopposed candidacy is great for political parties, not for voters or democracy,” the Times wrote in its May 14 editorial. “A strong field of Democratic candidates is more likely to ensure that campaign debates cover topics Democrats care about, and elicit authentic answers instead of canned responses. Without such a vigorous vetting, Harris would be able to script her communication so carefully as to be meaningless.”

Harris campaign jabs “culture of dysfunction”

Harris’ campaign wasted no time in welcoming Sanchez to the race with a subtle jab at Washington’s “culture of dysfunction.”

“The attorney general looks forward to a lively discussion about who is best equipped to help change the culture of dysfunction in Washington, D.C. and make a difference in the lives of Californians,” said Nathan Click, spokesman for the Harris campaign.

In addition to hailing from opposite ends of the state, the two Democratic women bring remarkably different styles, backgrounds and personalities to the campaign. The differences were evidenced in their campaign kick-offs: Sanchez with a traditional campaign rally, Harris an email announcement.

They’ve also risen through the political ranks in different ways. Sanchez fought her way into elected office after losing a 1994 campaign for Anaheim City Council. Harris benefited from an early political appointment by her longtime benefactor, former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.

Sanchez’s greatest asset might be her blunt, straight-talking demeanor, which could further expose Harris as a controlled and calculating politician. With a more direct style and off-the-cuff remarks that occasionally get her into trouble, Sanchez has managed to create a cult following with her annual Christmas card. In contrast, even Harris’ backers have described her as “too cautious,” a trait that could hamper her in a contested statewide primary.

Possibility of all Democrat run-off

Some political analysts say that there’s a strong chance that both Harris and Sanchez could both make the November run-off. On the Republican side, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Carlsbad has raised just $12,030 – a fundraising haul more befitting of a city council race. The only other announced Republican candidate, former California Republican Party chairman Tom Del Beccaro, has never won elected office.

“Lots of Republicans will end up on the ballot which means that we could see two Dems if it is just the two of them,” said Matt Rexroad, one of the state’s top Republican political consultants and a Yolo County Supervisor.

Rexroad, who does not have a client in the U.S. Senate race, gives the edge to Harris.

“In the end I think Harris has an impressive team that has shown a tremendous amount of discipline while Sanchez has been a side show,” said Rexroad, a partner at Meridian Pacific, a Sacramento-based consulting firm. “Advantage Harris on name ID, resume, and institutional support. The one thing Sanchez has going for her is the Latino surname.”

Other Democratic candidates are still considering the race, including Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles and former Secretary of the Army Louis Caldera.


Write a comment
  1. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 14 May, 2015, 17:45

    I would vote for Sanchez every time over Harris….

    Reply this comment
    • Bill - San Jose
      Bill - San Jose 15 May, 2015, 12:51

      “I would vote for Sanchez over Harris every time….”

      I would vote to watch this, yeah I’m curious. =)

      In all honesty, the person to blame and hold responsible for this complete disaster known as voting in the state falls on Abel Maldonaldo. He led the charge to have an open primary which has taken any truly opposing element out of a voters’ hands and made this the socialist soviet republic that we are today.

      Next topic about which communist to line pockets for.

      Reply this comment
  2. bob
    bob 14 May, 2015, 18:13

    Possibility of all Democrat run-off

    That’s not just a possibility, it’s a guarantee.

    It’ll be Cramala vs Sanchez, both will make you barf but Cramala is the greater evil.

    And which ever one of these witches gets in they’ve got the job for life if they want it. Just look how long [email protected] and Boxer have been in the Imperial Senate.

    Reply this comment
  3. desmond
    desmond 14 May, 2015, 19:57

    My money is on Kumala. She is filth. Of course, she will win. Willie Browns’s ho. A blingin endorsement

    Reply this comment
    • Queeg
      Queeg 15 May, 2015, 08:46

      Comrades like free stuff. Millions of needy people. Millions of pensions….

      Pluto could win with a bag of goodies-

      Reply this comment
      • ricky65
        ricky65 15 May, 2015, 10:12

        Yeah, pretty much, Queeg. You could put a set of those novelty store chattering teeth on a table with a sign that says ‘Democrat’ on it and the party faithful would vote for it.

        Reply this comment
  4. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 15 May, 2015, 14:07

    YAWN-So here we are in the last gurgling dying gasps of the disease known as Identity Politics. And we can surmise that all blacks will vote for Harris and all latinos will vote for Sanchez. Since both candidates are apparently female, white women will be confused and have to pay attention to their ‘positions on the issues’, not that it matters….The US Senate IS the big kahuna, the winning lottery ticket. Guaranteed to retire with a net worth well north of 100 million…

    Reply this comment
  5. Ted Steele PhD
    Ted Steele PhD 15 May, 2015, 14:44

    WOW— two great Dems running for the senate– it will be a tough choice I like em both!

    Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 15 May, 2015, 19:29

    Cat Fight!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  7. JimmyDeeOC
    JimmyDeeOC 17 May, 2015, 11:36

    38 million people…….the “……6th largest……I mean 7th-largest……or is it 8th largest economy in the world………” blah blah blah…….

    and the choice for Senate is limited to one of these two hamsters?

    Reminds me of idiot South American countries where they elect tools like Dilma in Brazil and Kirchner in Argentina.

    Which I guess isn’t THAT surprising though when you think about it. One would have to be dumb as a fence-post not to see Brazil is EXACTLY what this state, if not the nation will look like in 50 years…..and I am not even talking about the ethnic composition, though that’s a part. The graft and corruption, the hollowing of the middle class and the extremes in wealth, the gradual replacement of Anglo-Saxon-style governance with Iberian…….Brazil IS our future.

    Happily, I’ll be dead.

    Reply this comment

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John Hrabe

John Hrabe

John Hrabe spends his time traveling the world as a freelance journalist. When he isn’t on an international flight, John writes about California politics for CalWatchdog.com and CalNewsroom.com.

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